Spring Safety Tips For Pets

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It’s hard to believe but it’s finally spring! We can all go out and work in the yard or play. I bet your pet is also enjoying the longer days and nicer weather. With the season change, I thought it’d be a good time to devote another column to reminding you of some things to consider when it comes to your furry or feathered friend.

Whether you’re in a home or an apartment, this is the time of year when we all like to keep our windows open. Please check all of your window screens to make sure there are no large holes. You don’t want to take chances on any insects, particularly mosquitoes that could have west nile virus. Birds can chew through screens so make sure their cages are kept out of reach of open windows.

In the same thought, always make sure you know where your pets are when you’re opening doors. All it takes is a split moment for a flighted bird, dog or cat to be past you on their way outside.

When it comes to spring cleaning, always be aware that household cleaners and chemicals are toxic to pets. Air fresheners can even be deadly to birds so use them with caution.

Are all of your pets’ vaccinations current? If not, now is a good time to make a visit to the vet.

Before you let your dog romp around in your back yard, if it’s fenced, make sure there is no winter damage that will allow your pet to escape. Also, this is a great time to make sure you are current with your license and identification tag, you may even want to consider microchipping as a permanent means of identification. Avoid letting your dog play in areas that have been sprayed with insecticides or other chemicals. If you suspect your dog has accidentally walked on treated lawns, call your veterinarian right away.

Additionally, it’s a good idea to know which plants in your garden may be toxic to your pet. Here is a sample of some plants to be careful of:  Azalea, Boxwood, Caladium, Chinaberry Tree, Daffodil bulbs, Elephant Ear, Foxglove, Holly berries, Hyacinth bulbs, Hydrangea, Lily of the Valley, Mushrooms, Philodendron, and Rhododendron. If you suspect your pet has eaten a poisonous plant, call your veterinarian or the Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435.

Always be mindful of conditions that could cause your pet to over heat. Heat stroke can be deadly but it’s so preventable. Never leave your pet inside an enclosed car in warm temperatures. Make sure your dog or cat has plenty of fresh, cool water and plenty of shade. Shaving your dog or cat can actually make it more susceptible to heat stroke because its fur was designed as an insulator.

If your pet is starting to overheat, one of the first warning signs is an increased and noisy panting rate. Other symptoms include thick saliva, red mucus membranes, hot skin, dazed look, vomiting and diarrhea, and an inability to move or get up. If you suspect your pet is overheating, offer small amounts of water or completely soak your pet with coot water. In extreme cases, contact your veterinarian immediately.

When it comes to traveling with your pet, make sure you call ahead. Airlines have policies on when they will and how they will allow pets to travel in cargo holds (due to safety issues with regard to the heat). If you take your dog to the beach, remember saltwater can cause vomiting or dehydration. It’s better to carry some extra water just in case. On boats, pets should always have life jackets. If you’re hiking, it’s best to avoid letting your dog drink from streams that could be contaminated with parasites and always carry a first aid kit for those unforeseen emergencies.

And, one last note. Be nice to your neighbors…clean-up after your pooch and please don’t leave a barking dog outside for hours.

Happy spring!

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